In explaining why Malaysia needed to suspend democracy for the first time in half a century to fight the pandemic, Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin assured the nation he wasn’t staging a military coup.

But his opponents found it hard to view the first nationwide emergency since 1969 as anything but a power grab. While the Southeast Asian nation has seen a surge of coronavirus cases in recent weeks along with many other countries, measures to combat the pandemic have generally enjoyed broad support across the political spectrum.

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